The construction industry made a record rebound in May as it relates to unemployment after a devastating loss of 995,000 jobs in April and 65,000 jobs in March due to the global pandemic. According to Construction Dive, 464,000 net new jobs were added in May. Although this is an improvement, the impact of COVID-19 is still being experienced in the industry, and the threat of re-closure and job loss remains as new cases of COVID-19 continues to spike.
Many companies have reported disruption, delays and cancelations of projects. The chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, Ken Simonson, shared that their most recent study at the beginning of June found that 40% of firms said at least one expected project had been canceled. Although Legacy Construction has not had to cancel any in-progress jobs, we have experienced cancellation in the pre-development stages. More of this is to be expected as companies shift their building and budget priorities in light of COVID-19.
Unemployment and material shortage are significant contributing factors to the delays and cancellations. According to AGC Coronavirus Survey, 67% of respondents reported that they are experiencing project delays/cancellations largely due to shortage. 26% of the respondents reported that cancellations were due to the lack of construction materials, while 28% of respondents reported the shortage of craft-workers including subs. Nearly half of the respondents reported receiving notice from their suppliers that deliveries will be late/canceled. The scarcity of laborers slowed and even halted productivity across the entire industry.
These challenges will continue to evolve and develop the construction industry. Permitting delays are still being experienced as respondents are widely understaffed. Governments are recognizing the need to standardize building codes for efficiency, but the progress to shift in that direction will be slow.
Additionally, digital technologies have helped improve collaboration with partners and continues the shift to data-driven decision making. Technological innovation will be a key factor in the recovery of the industry, post COVID-19.